The First Steps Toward Becoming a 10X Internet Dealership

October 2011

Internet sales velocity comes from attacking process failure points. There are two that all too often occur just after arrival of a lead: failure to send a multi-vehicle price quote within 10 minutes, and failure to follow up with a phone call within 20 minutes. These days, there is just no excuse for allowing these failures to happen.

Reaching the Consumer First

It’s important to understand the perspective of the consumer here. She has just sent a lead to 3-4 dealerships. She’s putting each of you on trial. At that moment of truth, which dealer will show her how much he wants her business? All else being equal, he who comes first to the party, responding with the quote she requested and then following with a phone call to discuss it, wins. Simple as that.

So what constitutes a best-practice quote? On a new car lead, the quote should begin by presenting three alternative cars of the requested model/trim, showing different price points and feature packages. Then pre-owned alternatives of the same trim should be presented. For a pre-owned vehicle quote, usually the request is for a specific VIN. Lead with that vehicle, but still show alternative pre-owned vehicles, followed by new. This ensures the customer has a rich set of alternatives to choose from, creating the basis for a highly consultative conversation. Available incentives, leasing and finance options should also be presented, along with details about the vehicle.

If you can get such a quote back to the customer reliably in 10 minutes on every lead every time, you have taken step #1 on the road to becoming a 10X dealer. Now it’s time to turn to step #2: the phone call in 20 minutes.

I used to lighten up on smaller dealers on the question of a call within 20 minutes on every lead, every time. For a dealer with less than 300 leads, it seemed unreasonable to expect that dealer economics would support the staffing necessary to deliver on such a requirement. But those days are over. There now exist outsourced BDC options which will ensure that an intelligent, consultative call following up on a rapidly sent price quote can occur on every lead, every time, at least within the hours of 9:00 am to 9:00 pm seven days a week.

Critical Timing of Quote Delivery and First Call

Why is a rapid call so important? That’s because the value of a rapidly-sent price quote has a half life of about 30 minutes. Your detailed, multi-vehicle price quote just delighted the consumer and she wants to talk with you about it. She needs your help going through the alternatives and talking about the trade-offs. Like a dozen roses sent to her home, your quote has beaten every other dealer to the punch and set you up to win the customer’s heart. But failing to make an immediate follow-up phone call is like not showing up for a date! You just open the door for other suitors to step in. Keep her attention: get the call to happen right away.

Depending on the size of your dealership, it may not be feasible to create an organization that can reliably respond to every lead, every time, with a phone call in 20 minutes. Be honest with yourself and your team. If you can’t do it, then you must explore the alternative of setting your dealership up with an outsourced BDC that can make the call on your behalf. If you go this route, it is critical that the BDC receive a copy of the quote the customer has been sent before the BDC calls her. That way the caller can represent the dealership and the proposed vehicle alternatives intelligently, and position the follow-up from a dealership salesperson effectively.

Sometimes, a rapid follow-up call will progress immediately to scheduling a test drive, sometimes the customer will need more questions answered and will be working through the purchase process in a more methodical way. Regardless, there are things you should cover on the call, and there are things you should take from the call.

Value in the First Call

On every call, it’s important to understand the customer’s purchase timing, financing intentions and whether she seeks to trade in her current vehicle. It’s also important to seek a test drive appointment, and if that fails promise that a salesperson will get back to her with more information soon. Once the call is over, be sure to record every fact that could help advance the sale in your CRM so that the salesperson can follow up intelligently.

A rapid price quote and first call are now achievable for every lead, every time. As a dealer, it is your responsibility to put in place the processes and vendor partnerships that can make that happen. When you do, you will solve for two of the most daunting failure points in the Internet sales process, and you will be well on your way towards becoming a 10X dealership.

Written by Tom Mohr, President and CEO of ResponseLogix, Inc.

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